Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Packwood Indicted, Reno Targets Brown


WASHINGTON -- U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has called for an independent counsel to probe the business dealings of Commerce Secretary Ronald Brown, but President Bill Clinton vowed to keep Brown in his Cabinet and predicted that a special prosecutor "will find no wrongdoing."

Reno said the prosecutor should examine the circumstances by which Brown made nearly $500,000 by selling his interest in First International, a company he formed with Washington businesswoman Nolanda Hill, even though he had never invested any money in the venture.

Ren's move coincided with developments in two other Washington scandals. The Senate voted to hold a series of public hearings into the Whitewater affair, involving Clinton and his wife Hillary, while the Senate Ethics Committee issued what amounted to a formal indictment of Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood, over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Reno said in a document filed with the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals that the Justice Department had "received allegations that there may have been some linkage between the payments to Secretary Brown and his official position."

Brown complained Wednesday that Reno's decision "was not warranted" but said he is "absolutely confident the final outcome will put to rest all allegations and fully absolve me of any wrongdoing."

Apart from the Whitewater probe into his own dealings, Clinton now faces three independent counsels investigating the behavior of his appointees.

There is a special prosector looking into allegations that former agriculture secretary Mike Espy improperly received gifts while in office and Reno has also called for the appointment of an independent counsel to determine whether Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros lied to federal investigators about payments to a former mistress.

Clinton stood by Brown, saying in response to Reno's decision: "I am confident ... the independent counsel will find no wrongdoing by Secretary Brown."

In addition to Brown's relationship with Nolanda Hill and First International, Reno's court filing said that the independent counsel should examine why Brown filed inaccurate information on financial disclosure reports and on his application for a mortgage to pay for the purchase of a town house in January 1993.

As concerns Packwood, the ethics panel ruled that substantial evidence existed to begin hearings on allegations of sexual misconduct, misuse of office for personal gain and evidence tampering

The panel said it had documented 18 "credible" instances in which the senator is alleged to have harassed or assaulted women -- including Senate aides, campaign workers, an elevator operator and his own baby sitter. ()